We’re grateful to poet Esther Cohen and photographer Matthew Septimus, who were kind enough to send us another edition in their Postcards for Passover series. And also to guest contributor Felina Danalis, who submitted this touching Easter essay on her fraught relationship with the Greek Orthodox Church and “the fresh air and sunshine of resurrection.” Belated greetings to you all for this sacred time — Chag Pesach Sameach and Happy Easter!
What Our Columnists Are Thinking
Omid Safi | Illuminating the Beauty in Our Broken Places
The Japanese art of kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) restores a broken cup or bowl by embracing its full history. Rather than disguising the damage, they illuminate the cracks with gold, silver, or platinum. The result is often more beautiful than the unblemished original. Omid’s column gives a new perspective on lacquering our own flaws with gold and not just hiding them:
“We value success, wholeness. Unlike this Japanese art form, we don’t yet have a way of looking for what was once broken and has been healed and illuminated. How lovely would it be to find that a cracked and illuminated cup can be even more beautiful than a whole cup. How wise to realize that the broken hearts, illuminated and made whole, can be even lovelier.”
Parker Palmer | The Mystery at the Heart of Being Human
With a few poetic words on the soul by Wislawa Szymborska, Parker names those elusive truths that help us understand what it means to be human:
“When we fail to name and celebrate the ‘being’ in ‘human being,’ we are more likely to treat each other like objects, commodities, or machines. In an era of non-stop violence to the human self, we must lift up the fact that everyone has an inviolable, sacred core.”
Courtney Martin | What If We Could Be Our Whole Selves at Work?
I think we’ve all experienced the crush of life, those times when everything seems to go wrong simultaneously or in a dispiriting sequence. But it’s hard to admit that to some employers or colleagues. Courtney focuses in on this false division. She writes:
“All of us, at one time or another, will contend with an unpredictable balance of the work we do and the people we care about, or the miraculous but imperfect bodies we inhabit. And most of us, I would venture a guess, don’t feel like we can be real about that with the people we work with or for.
Why are work and caretaking still so juxtaposed in American society? Why do we still expect one another to show up to work as if our bodies never fail or our hearts never break?”
The World Around Us in Images
Marie Sambilay | The Devils of Luzón
Some of the most fascinating cultures and traditions are the ones we never see. In a tiny, ancient village in northern Spain, the height of winter is marked by a playful and haunting celebration: a game of tag with demons and ghosts in the cobbled streets of Luzón. Our digital producer crafted this visual feast of images detailing the celebration of La Fiesta de los Diablos y Mascaritas. It’s definitely on my list of vacation destinations!
What We’re Reading This Week
Stanford Social Innovation Review | Solving the World’s Biggest Problems: Better Philanthropy Through Systems Change
There are so many incredible social change projects making the world a better place. But at what cost and with what impact? Our board member Jeff Walker outlines a new era of strategies that don’t require social entrepreneurs to do it all by themselves and scale to make a bigger impact.
Religion Dispatches | Warpaint: What Does George W. Bush See in His “Portraits of Courage”?
Sarah Sentilles review of George W. Bush’s new book of paintings, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, is an insightful set of observations and reflections about a past president’s art and the wounded warriors he celebrates, and how she struggles with the stories he doesn’t acknowledge:
“When I read this book, I like Bush. I soften toward him. … Bush’s stories give me the feeling that he’s a good guy. He knows the soldiers he paints. He visits them in the hospital, knows their kids, invites them to his ranch, gives them nicknames, rides bikes and plays golf and even dances with them. But this affection works like a kind of erasure.”
From the On Being Archives
Brené Brown | We Don’t Have Spaces to Feel Vulnerable and Imperfect
For those of us who are sick and tired of being afraid, a brilliant stop-motion film featuring an excerpt of Brené’s engrossing conversation with Krista from a few years ago.
May the wind always be at your back.